Phoenix Belly Dance

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Journey Through Egypt: Special Edition Belly Dance Retreat
10-12 November 2017

You've found one of New Zealand Belly Dance's most exciting, popular, and fun events of the year! Welcome :) 

Our vision is to enable you to learn and grow in your dance, to reach dancers who feel out-of-touch or are struggling to get inspired in their dancing, and to make the retreat a safe environment for dancers to really let their hair down, be silly and play. Join us for The Journey Through Egypt - The 2017 Special Edition for our 7th Anniversary of the Phoenix Belly Dance Retreat!

Journey Through Egypt 1 is a 20 hour intensive course produced by Dance Ethnologist and International belly dance icon, Sahra Saeeda, on the movement, steps, posture, clothing, history, and cultural diffusion in the different regions of Egypt. Sahra’s unique perspective follows how the dance transforms from the homes of the people to the sparkling stages of Cairo and beyond.

Date: 10-12 November 2017 (theatre show 9 Nov TBC)

Venue: Bella Rakha Retreat Centre & Creative Venue

Capacity: The course is limited to 25 participants (usually 40 spots, and we sell out most years) - small class sizes assure that each student can ask their questions and get personal responses from Sahra.

Register Now!








-Suez Canal


The course also covers many of the rites and rituals that can be found throughout Egypt, such as zeffah, zars, and moulids, and some of these will be re-enacted by participants.

The course is taught by Sahra Saeeda (Sahra C. Kent), a teacher, performer, and dance ethnologist of Middle Eastern dance with over 30 years of experience. She returns each year to Egypt to continue her research and to teach.

Sahra has trained with both of the Egyptian National Dance Companies; in addition to learning Kowmeyya repertoire and technique towards international performing, Sahra trained with Mahmoud Reda and Farida Fahmy and happily shares her knowledge of their dance, and how they translated the dances of the people to those of the stages of Cairo and the world. With degrees in Dance, Cultural Anthropology, Archaeology, and a Master’s Degree in Dance Ethnology from UCLA, Sahra has researched dance and movement ritual in homes and villages throughout Egypt.

If you've never been on our retreats before (or you have and would like to relive the memories), please feel free to check out our past retreats, with information on activities, teachers, and testimonials. You can also watch trailers for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 retreats, which give you a pretty good idea of all the wonderful things we get up to!

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions or would like to register your interest, I’ll be happy to chat to you!
Candice / 0211704183 /

More details:

Accommodation - 2 nights

You couldn't find a more beautiful spot to relax and have fun than at the stunning Bella Rakha Retreat Centre, boasting 32 acres of native bush and bliss, just 25 minutes from Auckland CBD.

Due to all 20 hours of instruction of the Journey Through Egypt Course being offered during the Retreat weekend, we are looking to coordinate a performance show on Thursday 9 November. More details will be coming soon about this and we will send participants updates, but in the meantime registrations for the Retreat weekend are now open.

Bonus Materials

  • A DVD of “Journey Through Egypt” with Ya Amar! dance company as future reference for students on the dances of the regions discussed in the course.

  • A Digital download of a CD of music from each of the regions for academic purposes.

  • Digital Study guide files and maps for all participants.


Journey Through Egypt Level 1 consists of 20 mandatory in class hours. Level 1 provides an overview of the seven dance zones of Egypt and the dances and cultures found in those zones. Classroom time is divided between lecture, dance instruction, and trying on clothing from each of the regions discussed through the course.

Two wonderfully prepared healthy dinners will be provided for all dancers to fill their bellies after the days’ learning and dancing. You can also purchase our pre-packed lunches and breakfasts or you are welcome to pack your own lunches, breakfasts and drinks for the weekend (we have structured it this way to make it more affordable for dancers by supplying some of their own meals).

Once you have registered, you will receive a detailed information pack a few weeks before the Retreat. This will include travel information and maps, a suggested packing list, daily schedule, and any other final details. Please let us know if you would like to share accommodation with any attendees in particular, and we will do our best to make it happen.


  • Subscribing allows you to get updates. Your email address will be kept private.

About Sahra Saeeda

Sahra started her bellydance career at the Arabic nightclub, The Cascades, in Los Angeles, CA. 

While she had always been interested in the intersection of culture and dance (her Bachelors was in Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology), a need to grow as a dancer sent her to the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) where she pursued a Masters degree in Dance Ethnology.

Through the course of her study, she had the amazing good fortune to find a great friend and mentor in her program, Farida Fahmy. When the time came to begin research for her thesis on the Zeffat al’Arusah, Farida encouraged her to come to Cairo and pursue that research in person.

While in Egypt she received a contract with the Meridian-Heliopolis 5-star hotel, which she held for nearly 6 years. Her position as a local dancer gave her an amazing springboard to learn about the zeffah, and so much more.

Sahra now teaches and dances around the world, sharing her theories on dance in Egypt, the regions, the “tables”, and the way everything fits together. She is constantly conducting more research with two trips to Egypt each year, every time hunting for that next “puzzle piece” that will reveal ever more about the dance, and the culture, that she fell in love with over 30 years ago.

2017 Pricing

The Journey Through Egypt Retreat prices include:

  • Accomodation for 2 nights at Bella Rakha Retreat Centre
  • 2 delicious healthy dinners
  • All 20 hours of instruction are included with our international guest artist, Sahra Saeeda.
  • A DVD of “Journey Through Egypt” with Ya Amar! dance company as future reference for students on the dances of the regions discussed in the course.

  • A Digital download of a CD of music from each of the regions for academic purposes.

  • Digital Study guide files and maps for all participants.

Past Local and International Teachers

Candice Frankland (Auckland, NZ)

Aziza of Montreal (Canada)

Anasma (France)

Hadia (Canada)

Rose Ottaviano (Australia)

The Ruby Lady (Egypt / NZ)

Vanessa Castro (Brazil / NZ)

Bibiana Franco (Australia)

Rabiya (Australia)

Moya Harvey (Australia)

Mirian Caberlon Chamberlain (Wellington, NZ)

Pip E-Lysaah (Wellington, NZ)

Zummarad (Christchurch, NZ)

Christine Haviland (Auckland, NZ)

Angela Mott (Auckland, NZ)

Suezy Robertson (Auckland, NZ)

Julie Anterrieu (France / NZ)

Aida Sajadi (Iran / NZ)

Tanya Bamford King (Tauranga, NZ)

Dallia (Auckland, NZ)

Tatyana Tania Laptsevich (Belarus / NZ)

Margaret-Mary Hollins (Auckland, NZ)

Jane Steane (Tauranga, NZ)

Lisa Maia Ambrose (Dunedin, NZ)

Ziva / Sylvia Perkins (Wellington, NZ)

Testimonials from Past Retreats

'Thanks for an awesome weekend! I had a ball, learned so much, loved all the food :) ' -Wai Ling

'Had a fantastic time! The place was a great venue, wonderful tutors, delicious food and wonderful atmosphere.' -Anonymous

'Loved the whole weekend, and definitely will be back.' - Anonymous

'Just what I needed to have... no favourite workshop, all valuable!' -Suezy

'Thank you so much- I've had a fabulous time. The photoshoot and massages were a great idea to have too! :) ' -Carol Hunt

'Loved the whole weekend and definitely will be back.' – Nyla Gray

'Awesome weekend ,Thank you :) ' - Viv Proffil

'Great intro to Auckland based teachers for me.' – Rachel Aitken

'Thank you, thank you, thank you!' -Anonymous